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Graduate’s mindfulness invention for children chosen for tech innovation award

The invention aims to encourage children to practise mindful to improve their mental health

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Mental health and children: new product design Stix mindfulness

An invention encouraging children to practice mindfulness for better mental health has earned graduate Liam Murphy an Innovate UK Young Innovator award.

The business is called Stix Mindfulness, and is based on an invention that pairs a mobile phone with two hand-held remotes which allow children to engage in screen-free interactive mind-body activities.

These include game elements such as stars, badges, and different levels to maintain children’s interest, while the system also offers weekly growth reports and activity reminders. Stix responds to an alarming rise in mental health stresses among young people – worsened by the impact of the pandemic on both their education and social lives.

Liam began developing Stix as a response to mental health challenges he was facing at home and worked on the project during his Product Design with a Professional Experience degree at the University of Brighton. He received start-up financial support and ongoing mentoring during and after his degree from beepurple, University of Brighton’s student entrepreneur support service, before co-founding the business with his father John.

As part of his Innovate UK Young Innovator Award win, Liam will receive 12 months of business support, a £5,000 grant for his business, plus a living allowance. He was also picked out as one of Innovate UK’s Young Tech Entrepreneurs – a group that made up just under half of the 60 Young Innovator Award winners.

Mental health and children: new product design Stix mindfulness

Mental health and children

An estimated one in six children and young people in the UK now have a diagnosable mental health condition, and many continue to have these problems into adulthood. Half of those with lifetime mental health problems first experience symptoms by the age of 14. One in 10 boys ages 5-19 with mental health conditions are excluded in some form from school.

Studies show that mindfulness training not only improves overall children’s mental well-being but can reduce anxiety, depression and stress after just a few sessions. It can also boost test scores, improve family relationships, and make for better sleep.

Liam said: “After witnessing such challenges in the family setting, I was driven to explore mental health interventions and self-management. For the past two years, we’ve been developing a product that parents can add to their tool kit to help children build up mental resilience, a product that kids want to use. Stix product development is going well and we’re on target to meet our Kickstarter launch date in April.

“I had no idea how relevant my Product Design degree would be for the development of my startup. Design thinking was involved at every step of the journey, from concept development to creating marketing plans, and I still go back to my old notes.”

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